This article examines what it means to be an academic in the knowledge economy, using auto-ethnographic writing or storytelling as its starting point. Although academic mobility has been researched for about a decade, deep listening and deep reading in the context of ethnography have not been utilised in analysing what it means to move in this global space. To conduct this exercise, fellows from the European Union-funded Universities in the Knowledge Economy project who were all mobile academics, were invited to participate in ethnographic writing workshops and explore the personal, subjective elements of narrating their experiences of being mobile and being migrants. I aim to not only present the narratives of colleagues who populate the global knowledge economy but also analyse them and ask if certain ideal forms of narrative habitus support academic mobility.
Auto-ethnographic writing in the knowledge economy
Doctoral fellows’ experiences of a mobile life
Lisbeth Kristine Olesen Walakira and Susan Wright
EU policies promote mobility as a part of contemporary doctoral education. EU-funded doctoral candidates are expected to move country, establish international research networks; travel for workshops, conferences and research stays abroad; and collaborate across disciplines as well as work in other sectors during their doctoral training. As far as EU policies are concerned, competence in all these ‘mobilities’ is essential for future knowledge workers in a competitive, global economy. But how do doctoral fellows themselves experience mobility? A survey of 3,410 EU-funded doctoral fellows shed light on their experiences of geographical, sectoral, interdisciplinary and social mobility. It showed that many PhD candidates are excited by the opportunities they see in their doctoral programmes, but they often experience tensions between their professional and personal desires.
Maria Karaulova, Patrick McGovern, and Tim Battin
Qiongqiong Chen (2017) Globalization and Transnational Academic Mobility: The Experiences of Chinese Academic Returnees Singapore: Springer, 143 pp., ISBN 9789812878847
Brian Caterino (2016) The Practical Import of Political Inquiry London: Palgrave Macmillan, 117 pp., ISBN 973319324425
Morten Levin and Davydd J. Greenwood (2016) Creating a New Public University and Reviving Democracy: Action Research in Higher Education New York: Berghahn Books, 220 pp., ISBN 9781785333217
A brief overview of the history of a policy idea
This article addresses why and how mobility has become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education, aiming to reconstruct, in a historical perspective, the gradual conceptualisation of mobility as a policy idea. This process began with the discussion of academic mobility in the 1970s, when the European Communities had as yet no responsibility in the field of education, which resulted in the Erasmus Programme. In the late 1990s, the Bologna Process strengthened the discussion, substantially contributing to a consideration of mobility as a policy tool and the establishment of a mobility strategy. In connection with the EU research policy, the integration of doctoral studies into the Bologna Process is specifically analysed. The article concludes with some open questions, including the potentially negative consequences of the instrumentalisation of higher education for the concept of mobility.